This weekend’s local Match of the Day will be the Irish Cup tie between Ballyclare Comrades and Larne at Dixon Park.
This is one of the few all Championship 1 clashes, and both sets of fans are eagerly looking forward to this fourth-round tie, following the recent feisty league clash at the same venue.
With Larne inspired by new boss Davy McAlinden, Ballyclare manager Eddie Hill says it’s highly unlikely that October’s 4-0 league win over their rivals will be reproduced.
“Davy has started impressively with two straight victories, so there will be no repeat easy win for us,” warned Hill.
“No doubt about it, Larne will be fired up for this one, and they will be going all out to avenge for that humiliating defeat.
“Former Comrades players William Wharry, Scottie Irvine and Mark Picking are all likely to be in their starting line-up, and they will be itching to put one over on us, so the scene is set for a big battle,” he said.
Hill is sweating on the availability of injured players Chris Getty and Andy Simms. Simms had been selected to start against Bangor but had to pull out with a thigh problem in the warm-up, while Getty was forced to retire with a hip injury.
Andrew Doyle’s booking may rule him out due to suspension, but Hill is confident the strength in depth of his squad will be good enough to secure a win.
Reflecting on Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Bangor he said: “When we beat them in the Steel Cup I thought we were rather lucky, but this time it was the other way around.
“Overall, I thought we were the better side, and in addition to missing that crucial penalty we had other chances to wrap up the points.
“The defeat ends our fantastic home record, but it had to happen. The lads gave their all, but we failed to put away our chances.”
Larne boss McAlinden said: “It’s is a big game for us, because everybody wants to still be in the hat for the draw when the so-called big boys join the action and we are certainly no different.
“The Comrades have been doing well and have only been beaten once at home in the league, that being the 1-0 defeat by Bangor last Saturday. So, it will be a stern test for us and we will have to go there with determination and total concentration.”